On Friday 8 March, ESMS swimming relay teams competed in the prestigious British Independent Relay Championships in London, where over 150 Independent Schools from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales contested The Bath Cup and John Nalson (previously Otter Medley) Cup. The longstanding boys' event has been running since 1910 and the girls' competition was introduced in 1995.
Last year, for the first time, the Stewart’s Melville College boys’ team won both the Bath Cup (100m freestyle relay) and John Nalson Cup (50m medley relay), setting a new record for the John Nalson event, while The Mary Erskine School girls’ team won the Open Freestyle Shield.
This year the boys’ team arrived ready to test the competition once again. First up was the 4x100m freestyle relay with Sonny Kennedy (S6) as the first leg, followed by Jamie MacDonald (S6), then Iain Rose (S5), and finally Archie Goodburn (S6) for a strong finish. Their heat saw the team ranked first by over 10 seconds, but the boys knew they could do more. Finding some extra speed for the final, SMC stormed into first place and broke the existing Bath Cup record by 3 seconds.
In the afternoon, it was time for the John Nalson Cup. The heats saw the team place first again, albeit closely followed by Harrow. Ahead of the final, everyone refocused - they weren’t going to be beaten. A hard-fought race resulted with another SMC victory and breaking the event record, which was only set by the SMC team last year!
After outstanding swims from all of the boys, Stewart’s Melville College left the competition not only successfully retaining both of their titles but breaking both respective event records in the process.
Swimming coach, Mr Johnston, noted that “the records they have set are incredible times that should stand for many years to come. The boys should be extremely proud of their achievement.”
Five MES swimmers also set off to contest this year’s event; Katie Goodburn (S4) and Adele McDaid (S5) who had competed in last year’s team, alongside Francesca Kane (S5), Rebecca Ivens (S5) and Yasmin Ali (S3) who were competing for the first time. This young, slightly less experienced set of competitors were certainly up for the challenges that lay ahead!
The Mary Erskine team consisting of Katie, Francesca, Rebecca and Yasmin, were pulled in the first heat, but swam convincingly to make it to girls’ Freestyle Relay final against 68 other Schools. After improving their time by 2 seconds in the final, the team placed 4th overall - a marvellous result.
The girls’ Medley Relay (previously Otter Medley) was equally exciting with the MES team qualifying to take part in the final which comprised strong opposition including Guildford, Caterham, Bancroft, City of London, Reigate, Latimer Upper and Bromley.
After a concerted and valiant effort by the girls, Katie, Yasmin, Adele and Francesca swam a PB time (2.05.11) to take second place and win well-deserved silver medals!
To swim in any 10-lane final at arguably the biggest swimming event of the school year is a major achievement, with top Independent Schools from across the UK all battling for places and medals. It is unprecedented that a team would win both events whilst breaking their respective records with incredible times as the SMC boys did. We are equally proud of the achievements of our young MES team.
MES Swimming coach Kirsty Mundell said of this year’s competition: “it was a totally and utterly fantastic experience” and that it had been “an honour to be part of the event with the pupils”.
Huge congratulations to all of our swimmers, their coaches and their families for such another historic year at The Bath Cup for ESMS.